Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine

Spitball is a literary baseball magazine founded in 1981 and dedicated to poetry, short fiction, prose, art, and book reviews; all devoted to baseball. In 1983 Spitball established the CASEY Award to honor the authors and publishers of the best baseball books published each year. The CASEY was the first award of its kind, and it is widely recognized as the most prestigious award that a baseball book can be given.

 A key component of Spitball's mission is the timely publication of authoritative, lively, and appreciative reviews of quality baseball books. These reviews can be found in our Baseball Books Reviewed section. We also publish short and to-the-point reviews of current baseball books in the "Baseball Book News" column at the back of each issue of Spitball Magazine.

Spitball's Latest  News

June 26, 2024

JUDGES PANEL for 2024 CASEY Award Seated

Harmon, Morgenstein, and Testa ... oh my! Yes, Spitball is pleased to announce that Mike Harmon, Gary Morgenstein, and Judith Testa will serve as Judges for the 2024 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year, even though none of them hail from Kansas. Now in its 42nd year, the CASEY Award is the first, the oldest, and the most prestigious honor a baseball book can receive, and serving as a Judge is an honor in itself. As Editor Mike Shannon says, "It is essential that CASEY Judges have two equally important qualifications: a love of literature and books and a passion for the game of baseball. It would be difficult to think of a panel who better represents these criteria than the three Judges we have seated today. As always their task, in pinpointing the one book among the Finalists that makes the greatest contribution to baseball literature, will be a difficult one, but we have every confidence that they will reach a decision that will stand the test of time. We are also, of course, grateful for their service."

Introducing the Judges for the 2024 CASEY Award:

MIKE HARMON (Cincinnati, OH) is a retired trial lawyer, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati Law School, a member of numerous civic and philanthropic boards, and a Lifetime Subscriber to Spitball Magazine. The son of famed Cincinnati sportswriter Pat Harmon, Mike grew up in a baseball-centric household and as a kid enjoyed access to the Crosley Field  press box, as well as the private box behind home plate of GM Gabe Paul. The sports editor of his high school and college newspapers, he taught high school English, and after retiring from private law practice served as Litigation Chief of the Ohio Attorney General's office in Cincinnati for a decade and as Litigation Chief for the City of Cincinnati for another decade. He and wife Fran have been married for 54 years.

GARY MORGENSTEIN (Brooklyn, NY) is the author of one of the most impressive achievements in baseball literature, the dystopian baseball "Dark Depths" trilogy (A Mound Over Hell, A Fastball for Freedom, and A Dugout to Peace). After taking a B.A.  degree in political science from SUNY at Stony Brook (1974), he worked as a journalist and free lance writer and later spent most of his career in television public relations. An award-winning dramatist, Gary has also written two other baseball novels: Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1980) and The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees (1983).  To promote the latter book, he participated in an open tryout at Yankee Stadium.

JUDITH TESTA (St. Charles, IL) earned a PhD in art history from the University of Chicago and is a professor emerita at Northern Illinois University, where she taught art history and won numerous awards for her teaching excellence. Growing up in Long Island, a short train ride from Brooklyn, New York, she became a die-hard fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and (despite her allegiance to Dem Bums) an admirer of Sal Maglie, the NY Giants pitcher who was known as a Dodgers-killer. This interest in Maglie inspired her to write an outstanding biography of him entitled Sal Maglie: Baseball's Demon Barber (2007). The author of two books about her beloved Italy (Rome Is Love Spelled Backwards and An Art Lover's Guide to Florence), Judith also writes for the Chicago-area Italian-American monthly magazine, Fra Noi.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Three-time CASEY Award Winner Joe Posnanski Draws Big Crowd at 41st CASEY Awards

A large and enthusiastic crowd of literary baseball fans crammed into Poor Michael's Sports & Karaoke Bar in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 24 to welcome back Spitball Magazine favorite Joe Posnanski who graciously accepted his third CASEY Award for Why We Love Baseball, a book which tells the story of 50 of baseball's greatest moments in Posnanski's irresistible and incomparable style. After accepting the "Kentucky Blue"-barrelled & gold-inscribed Louisville Slugger baseball bat which represents the CASEY Award, Posnanski explained the genesis of his book, the idea that baseball gets a hold of its fans at an early age and never lets go. "I think that the greatest era of baseball for any fan is whatever era baseball was in when he was ten years old," Joe said. He also made a dramatic comparison between baseball and football to explain the appeal of storytelling to baseball fans. Baseball's biggest annual event is the Hall of Fame Inductions in Cooperstown, New York; football's biggest event is the draft of college players. Football fans, he pointed out, are thus always looking forward, to the future; while baseball fans are inclined to look backwards, at the past: a difference which causes baseball fans to revere the National Pastime's history. 

CASEY Award Finalists Jim Chapman (Baseball Photography of the Deadball Era) and Steve Gietschier (Baseball: The Turbulent Midcentury Years) were also on hand to accept Nomination Awards. Chapman explained that he self-published his lavish tome in order to maintain the high photo reproduction standards his beautiful book evinces. He also wanted to be able to freely credit the great "lensmen" of the era who had the skill and foresight to take the astonishing photographs which grace his book. Gietschier, a marvelous storyteller in his own right, spoke of his feelings about the wide-spread praise his sweeping history, in effect a sequel to Harold Seymour's two-volume history, has received. "You write a book, putting your heart and soul into it, and it gets published, and then people buy it and they enjoy it and they let you know that ... it doesn't get any better for an author than that," he said. After accepting their awards, the three authors patiently answered questions from the audience for half an hour or so, demonstrating the thoughtfulness, expertise, and love of the game of baseball which infuses their exceptional work. Spitball congratulates them and their publishers, the Judges for the 2023 CASEY Award (John Derks, Joe Gazzo, and Tom Gilbert), and the other Finalists for the 2023 CASEY. We also thank our hosts for the event (Michael Jonson and Meg Shannon), all those who donated door prizes, and attendees of the 41st CASEYs, the great fans who showed once again why Cincinnati remains the literary baseball capital of the world.

Joe Posnanski Wins 2023 CASEY Award!!!

Joe Posnanski  and Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, have won the 2023 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year for Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments. Why We Love Baseball received rankings of 1 - 2 - 5 from the three Judges for a total low score of 8 points. It finished three points ahead of runner-up Baseball Photography of the Deadball Era by Jim Chapman, which received rankings of 1 - 2 - 8 for a score of 11. Judge Tom Gilbert praised Posnanski's book, saying, "It was said a few decades ago that baseball preserves two fundamental elements of traditional American culture -- chewing tobacco and story telling. Joe Posnanski's new book is nicotine-free, but it is chock full of compelling baseball stories. Some of them you have heard, but not told this well; others will be entirely new to most of us. The man can write, but the best thing about the book is the author's profound love for our oldest American team sport. Every page reminds us why we fell in love -- and stayed in love -- with baseball."

Steven Gietschier, author of Baseball: The Turbulent Midcentury Years, finished in third place with a score of 13 on rankings of 1 - 5 - 7. The other second-place vote was received by Ryan McGee, author of Welcome to the Circus of Baseball; and three other different books received the three third-place votes. 

This marks the third CASEY Award win for Mr. Posnanski, who now joins Kostya Kennedy as the only two authors in that extremely exclusive literary club. Posnanski won the 2007 CASEY Award for The Soul of Baseball and the 2021 CASEY for The Baseball 100. Spitball Magazine Editor-in-Chief Mike Shannon had this to say about the competition's result: "We knew it would be a dogfight this year, as the list of Finalists is very impressive indeed, and it was a fairly close contest, at least at the top of the rankings. But Joe just seems to have the magic touch. It's not just that he's a superb writer; that's only part of it. He's a great storyteller, and he has a knack for getting to the heart of the matter and for touching people with his words. We heartily congratulate him and his publisher (Dutton) on his amazing third CASEY Award win and look forward to his next baseball book whenever he might write and publish it. We also wish to congratulate all the authors and publishers whose outstanding baseball books were Nominated as Finalists. It was truly a great year for baseball books. Finally, we extend our sincere gratitude to the Judges of the 2023 CASEY Award for a job very well done. John Derks, Joe Gazzo, and Tom Gilbert ... they had a most difficult task, and they rose to the occasion like champions."

The 41st annual CASEY Awards will take place on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 on March 24, 2024 at Poor Michael's Sports and Karaoke Bar in Springfield Township, OH, at 11938 Hamilton Avenue 45231. As usual, the event will feature door prizes, a shout-it-out trivia contest based on 2023's baseball books, a comic appearance by BALLZAK the Magnificent, a display of all baseball books published in 2023, an acceptance speech by Mr. Posnanski, and possibly appearances by some of the Nominated Finalists. Admission to the event ($20) includes a one-year subscription ($15) to Spitball, the sponsor of the CASEY Award, and delicious hot dogs, back by popular demand. 

October 15, 2023

Finalists for 2023 CASEY Award Announced

The Editors of Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine are pleased to announce that the following books have been Nominated as Finalists for the 2023 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year:

Banana Ball: The Unbelievably True Story of the Savannah Bananas * Jesse Cole * Dutton;

Baseball Photography of the Deadball Era: Rediscovering the Early Lensmen and Their Indelible Images that Brought the Game from the Field to the Fans * Jim Chapman * Self-published;

Baseball: The Turbulent Midcentury Years * Steven P. Gietschier * University of Nebraska Press;

Daybreak at Chavez Ravine: Fernandomania and the Remaking of the Los Angeles Dodgers * Erik Sherman * University of Nebraska Press;

The Fireballer: A Novel * Mark Stevens * Lake Union Publishing;

From the Front Row: Reflections of a Major League Baseball Owner and Modern Art Dealer * Jeffrey H. Loria * PostHill Press;

The New Ballgame: The Not-So-Hidden Forces Shaping Modern Baseball * Russell A. Carleton * Triumph Books;

Spitter: Baseball’s Notorious Gaylord Perry * David Vaught * Texas A & M Press:

Welcome to the Circus of Baseball: A Story of the Perfect Summer, at the Perfect Ballpark, at the Perfect Time * Ryan McGee * Doubleday;

Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments * Joe Posnanski * Dutton; and

The Wingmen: The Unlikely, Unusual, and Unbreakable Friendship between John Glenn and Ted Williams * Adam Lazarus * Citadel Press.

According to Spitball Editor Mike Shannon, “Great baseball books are nominated as Finalists for the CASEY Award every year, but this year’s list is truly outstanding, one of the strongest fields ever assembled in the history of the Award. In fact, it is the strength of the field that compelled us to include 11 books. We hated to increase the Judges’ workload (from the usual 10 books), but we simply found it impossible to leave out any of the 11 Nominated titles. Thus, just being included in this list is a great honor, as several other top-notch baseball books for 2023 regrettably did not make the cut, and I do not envy the task the Judges have in front of them, of trying to determine which of these 11 books deserves a little more than the others to win the CASEY. Congratulations to all the Nominated authors and publishers for their impressive contributions to the field of baseball literature.”

The 41st annual CASEY Awards will take place in Cincinnati, Ohio, in March of 2024. More details about the event will be posted on the Spitball website in the coming months.

July 26, 2023

JUDGES for 2023 CASEY Award Announced

Spitball is pleased to announce that the following have agreed to serve as the Judges for the 2023 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

John Derks (Independence, KY) is an expert on the baseball card hobby and a former card shop owner. He was an outstanding relief pitcher for Northern Kentucky University (1983-87), who upon graduation was the school's career leader in both appearances and saves. He served as the team's pitching coach from 1987 to 1993 and remains the program's only participant to both play and coach for NKU in a college World Series. The manager of a title company, the 59-year-old Derks is only 58 years old.

Tom Gilbert (Brooklyn, NY) is the author of several baseball books, including How Baseball Happened, which won the 2020 CASEY Award. An active member of SABR's 19th-century Committee, he is currently working on a biography of "baseball's mysterious first star pitcher, Jim Crieghton." An indefatigable raconteur, he still pitches in a local softball league.

Joe Gazzo (Strongsville, OH) has spent 40 years in the real estate business and currently serves as VP Ohio Region for Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realty. He sits on the board of The Baseball Heritage Museum at the site of Cleveland's historic League Park, where he gives guided tours of the preserved facility. An accomplished baseball artist featured in Spitball and Helmar Baseball History magazines, he also teaches art classes in the League Park neighborhood.

Spitball Editor Mike Shannon said, "We are very pleased with the composition of this year's CASEY Judging panel. The three Judges are all rabid life-long baseball fans who know the game inside and out, as well as thoughtful observers who bring differing backgrounds and perspectives to the task. We have every confidence that they will succeed in their mission: to identify the one book among many outstanding Finalists that deserves the most to win the prestigious CASEY Award. We look forward to their decision." The list of Finalists for the 2023 CASEY Award will be announced on this website the first week of November.

June 7, 2023

Mike Shannon's New Book Now Available in Limited Edition

Forty years in the making, A Row of K's in the Left Field Bleachers: The Collected Baseball Poems by Spitball Editor Mike Shannon has been published by Palace of the Fans Press. The 143-page soft cover book contains 114 poems in total, grouped into six sections, including "The Mantle/Mays Controversy Solved," "Pete Rose Agonistes," "A Terror of the Pickoff Move," "A Row of K's in the Left Field Bleachers," "The Living Legend Award Poems, Commissioned by the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory," and "Cooperstown Anthology"; the latter group of spectral monologues a tribute to and in the style of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. The book has been printed in a signed and numbered edition of 150 copies and features a beautiful painting by Spitball cover artist Scott Hannig as its cover art. To order a copy of A Row of K's in the Left Field Bleachers, send $20 plus $5 postage and handling to: Mike Shannon, 536 Lassing Way, Walton, KY 41091. Please make all checks out to MIKE SHANNON, not Palace of the Fans Press or Spitball Magazine. If available, any requested number of the edition will be sent. If a requested number is not available, the lowest number available will be sent.

March 14, 2023

Kostya Kennedy Hits Grand Slam at 40th Annual CASEY Awards

On Sunday March 12, before an appreciative and enthusiastic crowd of great baseball fans and supporters of Spitball Magazine and the CASEY Awards, Kostya Kennedy accepted the 40th Annual CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year at Poor Michaels Sports & Karaoke Bar in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was another historic event in the life of baseball's only literary magazine (established in 1981) in that Kennedy, for copping the 2022 CASEY, officially became the first three-time winner of baseball literature's highest honor. Kennedy had previously won the 2011 CASEY for 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports and the 2014 CASEY for Pete Rose: An American Dilemma.

Kennedy spoke to the crowd for half an hour about his CASEY-winning book, True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson, and then answered questions from the attendees for another half hour. The crowd was spellbound as he  eloquently discussed the genesis of the book (work he had done researching a profile of Rachel Robinson for Sports Illustrated), his decision to focus on four key years of Jackie's life and career corresponding to the four natural seasons, and the preeminent result of his efforts: the insight that both Jack and Rachel were extremely aware at all times of their status as racial pioneers and that this awareness guided their every decision. Kennedy reminded us that Robinson's color-barrier breaking began in 1946 as a Montreal Royal, and he speculated that the Dodgers might have won the NL pennant and possibly the World Series too that year had Branch Rickey given in to the temptation to promote Jack to Brooklyn that summer. (He also pointed out that the reason black pitcher Johnny Wright was unable to keep his spot on the Royals along with Robinson was his fear of beaning a white batter.)  Much had already been written about Robinson, but in True Kennedy was able to shine a new, highly empathetic light on the great man's character, struggles, and achievements; and it was an unforgettable treat for CASEY attendees to hear the author expound on the subject. At the conclusion of the program, Kennedy graciously signed copies of his CASEY-winning books and posed for photos with many of the attendees.

Spitball congratulates Mr. Kennedy and St. Martin's Press for winning the 2022 CASEY Award, as well as the authors and publishers of all the Nominated Finalists. We also thank the Judges of the 2022 CASEY (Skip Lockwood, Al Morris, and Mark Walling) for a job well done and the members of the 2022 CASEY Award Committee (Doug Feldman, Mark Schraf, and Al Turnbull) for composing and reading at the ceremony exceptional introductions to the ten Finalists for 2022.

January 19, 2023

Kostya Kennedy Wins His Third CASEY Award!

Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine is pleased to announce that the 2022 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year has been won by Kostya Kennedy and St. Martin's Press for True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson. Kennedy thus not only becomes the first three-time winner of the CASEY, but he is also a perfect three-for-three; in that every baseball book he has written has won a CASEY Award! True received one first-place vote, one second-place vote, and a third-place vote for a total low score of six points. Red Barber: The Life and Legacy of a Broadcasting Legend (University of Nebraska Press) by Judith R. Hiltner & James R. Walker finished second with ten points. Red Barber received one of the other first-place votes, as did The Church of Baseball: The Making of Bull Durham: Home Runs, Bad Calls, Crazy Fights, Big Swings, and a Hit by Ron Shelton (Knopf).

In praising True, Judge Mark Walling said that "Kennedy blends exceptional research, journalistic accuracy, and artistic craftsmanship to create a fascinating and deeply-affecting work of creative nonfiction that allows the reader to live as Jackie Robinson during four seasons of his exceptional life ... and to know Robinson in the way of a character of great literature." Judge Skip Lockwood added that "Kennedy took on a big task in telling a different kind of story about a person about whom so much had already been written, but he did a masterful job." And Alan Morris, the third CASEY Award Judge for 2022, stated: "I really enjoyed True because Kostya Kennedy is an excellent writer, and I thought his approach was perfect. Nobody needed another biography of Jackie, but this book offered great insight into the man and what his life meant to so many people."

Spitball Editor-in-Chief Mike Shannon offered this comment on the outcome of the CASEY Award competition for 2022: "Kostya Kennedy has proven once again that he is one of the giants of baseball literature. His unprecedented achievement in winning CASEY Awards with three consecutive books would be mind-blowing if not for the fact that his graceful, eloquent, and insightful writing never fails to astonish the reader and provide him with great pleasure. As the Judges have indicated, we all thought we knew Jackie Robinson pretty well, but now because of True, we know him more intimately than ever before. As with Kostya's previous CASEY winners, True is a perfect pairing of author and subject, and the book is a most deserving representative of the historic 40th Anniversary of the CASEY Awards."

Spitball is grateful for the service of the three Judges of the 2022 CASEY Award: Skip Lockwood, Alan Morris, and Mark Walling, and we congratulate Kostya Kennedy and St. Martin's Press, as well as the other Finalists, whose excellent works made the Judges' task so challenging. We thank all publishers (and their publicists) who sent Spitball review copies of their baseball books in 2022, and we congratulate all authors who published a baseball book last year.

The 40th annual CASEY Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 12,  2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The Baseball 100 - Joe Posnanski - Avid Reader Press

 March 7, 2022

Cincinnati, OH

Record Crowd Witnesses Joe Posnanski Accept Pair of CASEY Awards for The Baseball 100 and The Soul of Baseball

Sunday, March 6, was a historic day in the history of the CASEY Awards, as Joe Posnanski accepted not one but two CASEY Awards, symbolizing the Best Baseball Book of the Year. Posnanski won the 2021 CASEY for The Baseball 100, a collection of superb essays on the greatest baseball players ever, which made him a two-time winner of the Award. However, in front of a record-setting crowd, he was also presented with a second CASEY on Sunday, the one he earned back in 2007 for The Soul of Baseball. Due to circumstances beyond the control of Spitball, the ceremony that year was canceled at the last minute, and Joe was denied his day in the CASEY Award spotlight. Sunday's ceremony rectified that injustice, and now all is right in the world of baseball literature.

Posnanski held the crowd spellbound while describing the lengthy, start-and-stop-and-begin again process he went through in compiling The Baseball 100, and the audience got a valuable insight into how much hard work goes into the writing of such a literate and well-researched tome. Joe acknowledged his editor at Avid Reader Press, Jofie Ferrari-Adler, for having the courage to sign up an 869-page baseball book, and rightfully so. He also spoke eloquently about his previous CASEY-winning book and its subject, the beloved Negro League legend Buck O'Neil; explaining how Buck reacted with the utmost class to the disappointment of not being elected to the Hall of Fame in what was his final try while he was alive.

Also on hand to accept 2021 Nomination Awards were the co-authors of Cobra, Dave Jordan and Dave Parker. Jordan thanked his wife for her support of his writing efforts, and Parker said he wished everyone in attendance could have played major league baseball so that they could have had as much fun doing so as he did.

Spitball congratulates Joe Posnanski and Avid Reader Press on their 2021 CASEY Award win, Dave Jordan and Dave Parker, and all the other Nominated authors and publishers. We thank the 2021 CASEY Award Judges (Kostya Kennedy, Rob Langenderfer, and Larry Phillips) for a job well done, and we express our gratitude for the amazing hospitality of hosts Meg Shannon and Michael Jonson of Poor Michael's Sports Bar & Restaurant. Finally, we tip our caps to all the great baseball and baseball literature fans who packed the venue on the 6th and made the event the spectacular success it was.

January 16, 2022

Cincinnati, OH

THE BASEBALL 100 by Joe Posnanski Wins 2021 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year

Spitball Magazine is pleased to announce that the 2021 CASEY Award has been won by Joe Posnanski and Avid Reader Press for The Baseball 100, a ranking of the best players in baseball history with brilliant essays devoted to each player in the ranking. The Baseball 100 received votes of 1, 2, and 3 for a total low score of 6 points. Finishing in second place was Forty Years a Giant: The Life of Horace Stoneham, written by Steven Treder and published by the University of Nebraska Press. Forty Years a Giant received votes of 1, 2, and 6 for a total of 9 points, 3 behind the winning book. Cheated: The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing (Doubleday) by Andy Martino received the other 1st place vote and finished in a tie for third place with Our Team; The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series that Changed Baseball (Luke Eppling and Flatiron Books); each book receiving a score of 13 points.

Judge Rob Langenderfer called The Baseball 100 "a thoughtful book which tells more unknown stories about the backgrounds of the players than any other book of this type. It provides much interesting analysis and showcases each figure as a baseball player and a human being." Judge Kostya Kennedy said the book "feels like a perfect life companion, rich in pleasures, surprises, and satisfactions."

Spitball Editor Mike Shannon said, "We are grateful for the job that our three Judges (Langenderfer, Kennedy, and Larry Phillips) did in fulfilling their important task. In coming to a clear consensus, they did exactly what they were called upon to do: select the one book out of a very strong field that deserves to be recognized more than any other as the Best Baseball Book of the Year. We sincerely congratulate them and thank them for a job well done. We also extend our heartiest congratulations to Joe Posnanski and Avid Reader Press for becoming the winners of the 39th annual CASEY Award, and we congratulate all the other Nominated Finalists, as well. Finally, we thank all the publishers and authors who participated in the CASEY Award process by sending review copies of their 2021 baseball books to Spitball Magazine. "

The 39th annual CASEY Awards ceremony will take place in early March 2022 at Poor Michaels' Karaoke Bar & Restaurant. The date of the event will be announced on this website in the coming days.

June 25, 2021

Cincinnati, OH 

CASEY Award Policy Announcement

    Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine has announced a policy to officially govern the administration of the CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year: henceforward, at least one of the three Judges newly seated on the three-Judge CASEY Award panel each year must be a current subscriber of the Magazine. CASEY Award Judges are not paid, but they do receive complimentary Judges' copies of the baseball books Nominated as Finalists, plus the honor and satisfaction of being an integral part of the process which determines the greatest honor the author and publisher of a baseball book can receive. The 2021 competition marks the 39th year of the existence of the CASEY Award, which was inaugurated in 1983.

    According to Spitball Editor Mike Shannon, the announcement represents a formal declaration of what has been actual CASEY Award practice for some time. "When it comes to Judges for the CASEY, we are always looking for the same thing," he said. "We need people who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about both baseball and literature, and that pretty much defines the readership of Spitball Magazine. What this official policy does is recognize that fact, plus it gives us a chance to more deeply involve, even if it is one person at a time, our readership in the CASEY Award process. Our subscribers, in other words, begin to have a more proprietary relationship to the Award, which is a good thing. We have always invited our subscribers to nominate books for the CASEY Award each year, and we will continue to do that, but the opportunity to make nominations is open to everyone; including people who are not and have never been subscribers to Spitball Magazine. Being a Judge for the CASEY though is a much more important part of the overall process, and so we think it is only fair and natural that we ensure that our subscribers are always represented on the panel."

    Shannon went on to say that this policy does not necessarily limit the composition of any year's panel to one Spitball subscriber; it merely ensures the presence of at least one subscriber. "We are not only proud of the CASEY Award itself," said Shannon, "but also of everyone who has been a part of it all these years: the winning authors and publishers, of course, but in addition to them ... all the authors and publishers nominated as Finalists, all the wonderful publishers who have supplied their Nominated books to the Judges, the Judges who have done such a great job in fulfilling their duty, all the loyal supporters and attendees of the many CASEY Award ceremonies we have sponsored, and all the generous people who have hosted the CASEYs. It's been a concerted effort by a lot of great people, and we are grateful to them all."

    A related announcement about the Judges for the 2021 CASEY Award will be made in this space soon.


    On Sunday, March 14, 2021, Tom W. Gilbert accepted the 2020 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year at the 38th Annual CASEY Awards Banquet in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gilbert spoke for a half hour to a sell-out crowd of Spitball Magazine and baseball literature supporters about his CASEY-winning book, "How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed, the True Story Revealed" and sold numerous copies of the book which he graciously signed and inscribed. In a wide-ranging address Gilbert cited the true origins of baseball, explaining how the game was first developed by amateurs in New York City and Brooklyn and then spread by them into all corners of the nation until it could legitimately be called the country's National Pastime, a sporting and health-enhancing activity that was truly American in its conception and character. In the following question-and-answer session he also spoke about misconceptions surrounding the vaunted 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Once again, the crowd rose to the occasion in exhibiting their baseball knowledge, and attendees Steve Blessinger, Jerry Hazelbaker, and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning, "Mr. Perfect," took home "Baseball Trivia King" certificates (suitable for framing) for answering difficult questions.

    Spitball congratulates Tom Gilbert and David R. Godine, Publisher, for producing the 2020 CASEY Award winner and extends sincere gratitude to the CASEY Award Judges for 2020 (Greg Gajus, Rob Neyer, and Lorine Parks) for a job well done. Spitball also thanks Poor Michael's Cafe and Karaoke Bar for hosting the 2020 CASEY Awards, all the dedicated baseball fans who attended the event, and Anne Jewell and the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum for producing the beautiful Louisville Slugger baseball bat which represents the CASEY Award.

  How Baseball Happened Wins 2020 CASEY Award!

January 20, 2021 

Cincinnati, Ohio

Spitball is pleased to announce that How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed! The True Story Revealed, written by Thomas W. Gilbert and published by David R. Godine, has won the 2020 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year. The ground-breaking history won in a landslide, garnering two first-place votes and one third-place vote from the three Judges.

    Judge Lorine Parks called it "By far the best - brilliant, stimulating, funny. Does for baseball what David McCullough did for U.S. history: places baseball firmly in the mainstream of American culture." Judge Greg Gajus called the book "a worthy successor to Baseball in the Garden of Eden" and said it added a lot of original insights to what we already knew about the period in a most entertaining way.

Spitball Editor Mike Shannon concurred, adding, "We congratulate Mr. Gilbert and his publisher David R. Godine for a book that clearly makes a major contribution to baseball literature. From the very first page of How Baseball Happened, the reader knows he is in for an exciting, often witty and amusing, ride through the game's earliest years. I know that Spitball supporters throughout the Cincinnati area, some of the most knowledgeable baseball fans to be found anywhere, are now looking forward to hearing Mr. Gilbert speak in March. I also congratulate Judges Parks, Gajus, and Rob Neyer on a job well done. They did exactly what they were called upon to do: compare superb books of different genres to determine which one makes the greatest overall contribution to baseball literature. Kudos all around!" 

    Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original, written by Mitchell Nathanson and published by the University of Nebraska Press, received the other first-place vote from the Judges and finished in second place.

    The 38th Annual CASEY Awards ceremony will take place at 2:00 PM on Sunday, March 14, 2021, at Poor Michael's Sports Cafe and Karaoke Bar in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 11938 Hamilton Avenue, just south of Fairfield, Ohio. For more information about the event and the CASEY Award program, please contact Mike Shannon at spitball5@hotmail.com.

Jeremy Beer Accepts 37th CASEY Award for "Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball's Greatest Forgotten Player"

    On Sunday, August 30, 2020, Jeremy Beer accepted the 37th annual CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year from Spitball Editor Mike Shannon at Wiedemann's Brewery and Restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Beer spoke for 25 minutes before a knowledgeable and appreciative crowd of Cincinnati-area baseball fans about the subject of his important biography, which has rescued one of the game's greatest players from the dust bin of baseball history. Beer explained that Charleston must be considered among a handful of the very best players, black or white, because of his unmatched resume. He said that Charleston's greatness consisted of four factors: his unmatched playing ability as an all-around great hitter, defender, and base runner/base stealer; his supremacy as a championship manager in Negro League baseball; his pioneering status as the first black scout employed by a team in the white major leagues; and the difficulties he routinely and bravely overcame to achieve his many accomplishments. At the conclusion of his remarks Mr. Beer took questions from the crowd for another 20 minutes and took a few practice swings with his beautiful blue & gold Louisville Slugger CASEY Award baseball bat. He now joins the pantheon of previous CASEY Award winners.

    Prior to the presentation of the CASEY Award to Mr. Beer, the "Spitball Magazine crowd" once again displayed its amazing knowledge of baseball history during a shout-it-out trivia quiz, based on questions taken from 2019 baseball books; and Greg Gajus, Deron Grothaus, John "Hondo" Skurkay, and Rob Langenderfer took home "Baseball Trivia King" certificates, "suitable for framing." All 2019 baseball books received by Spitball for review were on display; and, as usual, BALLZAK, the Magnificent (aka Steve Blessinger) wowed the crowd with his humorous prognosticating abilities. Greg Gajus also accepted a Finalist Nomination Award for Baseball Revolutionaries: How the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Rocked the Country and Made Baseball Famous. Spitball thanks the 2019 CASEY Award Judges, Dave Grob, Michael Leahy, and C.W. Spooner, for a job well done; Jon and Betsy Newberry of Wiedemann's Brewery for graciously hosting the 37th annual CASEYs; Jim Crowley, Doug King, and Eric Soergel for a great job as pinch-hit introducers of the Nominated Finalists during the official program; and especially all the patrons of the CASEY Awards who braved "the elements" to attend the event.

It's Always Baseball Season Here!

Yes, here at Spitball we too are disappointed that the baseball season hasn't started yet. But the postponement of the season due to the current health crisis doesn't mean that there is no baseball. Not when a new issue of Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine is right around the corner. The new, Spring 2020 issue is at the printer, and we hope to send it off to all subscribers soon. And what an issue it will be! In the "Spitball Interview" baseball travel writer Chris Epting tells us about his dream job, while in "Brushes with Baseball" innovative baseball card artist Matthew Lee Rosen gives us insight into how he creates his mind-blowing display pieces. Rich Puerzer provides a wonderful short story about the immortal Satchel Paige, that is beautifully counter-balanced by Dennis Bartel's amusing memoir about trying to even foul tip a Tom Seaver batting practice pitch. Terrific poems by Lorine Parks, Ken Moon, William Derge, Bill Keen, James Scruton, Chris Fahy, Joe Carriero, Mike Ceraolo, Douglas Malan, Thomas Reynolds, and Editors Mike Shannon and Mark Schraf round out the pleasurable reading. Add a "Card Blanche" rumination about the classic 1955 Topps Doubleheader set, another superb short story illustration by Richard Tomasic, and cover artist Donnie Pollard's show-stopping portrait of Dave Parker, along with his cover design that simply reeks with nostalgia for 1970s era baseball ... and you have an antidote to the season delay that will help you survive the baseball doldrums in style. If you consider yourself an intelligent baseball fan but you are not a subscriber to Spitball ... what in the heck are you waiting for! 

    And if you want to know the latest about the new crop of baseball books that have been released already for 2020, then check out the "Current Baseball Books" page on this website. The new books for this spring are all listed there ... just another service provided for those who love baseball and literature provided by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine.

Rob Neyer Wows 'em at 36th Annual CASEY Awards Banquet 

The 36th annual CASEY Awards Banquet was another sold-out affair and was highlighted by CASEY Award-winner Rob Neyer's fascinating and wide-ranging discussion of his winning book, Power Ball, and recent analytical trends which have dominated the game at the major league level and caused some fans to consider that game less interesting than its predecessor. The usual festivities were part of the afternoon, including door-prize give-aways, a shout-it-out trivia quiz based on 2018's baseball books, a display of all baseball books published in 2018, an appearance by BALLZAK, the Magnificent, a rundown of all books Nominated as Finalists for the 2018 CASEY, and Mr. Neyer's acceptance speech. After his formal remarks, Neyer took questions from the audience for almost 45 minutes. Author John Erardi was also on hand and accepted a Nomination Award for his biography, Tony Perez : From Cuba to Cooperstown. It was another very special event, and Spitball thanks all the Nominated authors and publishers, everyone who helped stage the event, especially Scott Schmidt of Crosley's Sports Bar & Eatery, and all those loyal fans of baseball literature who attended. It's because of that latter group that the CASEY Awards Banquet has become the premier Hot Stove League event on the baseball calendar!


It's official: Spitball now has a new mailing address, and all books for review, submissions, and correspondence should be mailed to:

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